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Is this the Magic Bullet of computer security?

 

Security has been our greatest concern at CrexTechs. Most of the business we have had over the last fifteen years has been cleaning up computers that have been blown away by malware. In a lot of cases the malware has done so much damage that we have to wipe the hard drive and reinstall the operating system and reinstall all the programs (provided you have your program disks and/or keys!). Sometimes we can save data files and sometimes we can’t which is why we have always said, the three most important words in computing are backup, backup, backup!

 

We have also said that if we could find a better way to protect people’s computers, though it would most likely put a big dampener on our business, we would gladly do so. Well, it seems we might have finally found that magic bullet.

 

CTSA (CrexTechs Security Agent) is software that performs almost all the onerous tasks that keep our computers malware-free. That is, all those program updates that patch holes and block attempts to infiltrate our machines via the internet and shared files. CTSA also monitors and scans your computer continuously throughout the day (when the computer is on). It cleans up and logs all malware that it finds. It updates its own program and virus definitions continually. It is virtually the most up to the moment malware protection you can get.

 

We love it!! Of the more than 200 subscribers since we have offered CTSA in early 2014, we have yet to see a machine blown away by malware. We have also been able to warn our customers when an inordinate amount of malware is attacking their machines. We can also monitor the health of our customer’s computers and get a jump on repairs before data is compromised. (This doesn’t mean that a good backup in not still essential.) All of our CTSA customers get free remote support for computer issues, all they need to do is have their computer on and connected to the internet, give us a call and ask for support on whatever issue they are having with their machine. It is simple and easy!!


If you are interesting in more information, click on the security tab on our website or give us a call at 715-463-2365.

 

Happy Computing!

 

 

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Don't encourage the worst on FB

I must seem like a sourpuss to my Facebook "family." They like and share all the touching postings with pictures of sick kids and support our troop messages. I admit to being a bit cynical but I can smell a scam from a long way off and FB if rife with them. 


By liking, sharing and clicking thru to the originator of the post you are providing that entity with a valuable commodity that is worth money, real money. Every like, share or click thru increases the value of the page. That page then sells adertising space for cash in their pockets or they sell the page to someone else who keeps up the posts and garners the advertising dollars.


If you research the names of the original posters of these messages on Google or Yahoo you will often find it doen't exist outside FB, is an individual with lots of such pages, or that it is a "charity" with dubious standing. It might even be masquerading as a media outlet like a radio station that is really just a website with sensational and smutty subject matter that is also in the business of selling advertising.


Yes, it is nice to support the troops and give a e-squeeze to a sick kid but that is not what is happening. Want to support our troops and sick kids? Find an organization that really does help them and like and click on their posts. Better yet, add them to your list of supported charities and send them a check once in a while.


Check out this article on FB like farming:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/21/tech/social-media/facebook-like-farming/

Here are some charities I like:

Diabled American Veterans 

St Jude Children's Research Hospital

Feed My Starving Children


Here is a great website for checking out charities:
http://www.charitynavigator.org/

 

 

Conventional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) vs Solid State Drive (SSD)
Vaughn and Dennis are loving solid state drives. Vaugh rattled off a whole list of reasons and told me I should blog about it. The average user will glass over when presented with this information. Who cares, just so they work. Well, there might be reasons to care whether your new laptop or desk top has a solid state drive (SSD) or a conventional hard drive (HDD). 
 
Here are the pros:
 
  • SSDs are really, really fast. There are no moving parts that take time to operate so your laptop or desktop will boot up quickly. See the video Vaughn made.
  • SSDs operate cooler which should contribute to longevity for the the drive as well as components within the computer that are all susceptible to heat.
  • They are significantly lighter and quiter than hard disks.
  • They use less power
  • They are not  to susceptible to sudden movement the way hard disk drives are. You can move your laptop, shake it  or  drop it and still have an operational disk though you may not have other operating parts! 
  • They theoretically have a longer life expectancy.
  • All this being said. There are drawbacks to the current generation of solid state drives.
When they fail they tend to fail without warning. Hard disks will give you some warning before they stop functioning. They will slow way down or turn themselves off after a few minutes of operation.  This can buy you time to back up your data or for a technician to recover data before all is lost. SSDs will stop functioning suddenly. Once this happens, the data is irretrievable.
 
SSD are smaller and weigh considerably less but they have smaller capacity and are more expensive.
 
Vaugh says that he would back up his important data on an external hard disk (HDD) or to a server drive. This alone tells me that SSDs are not the be all and end all of computing!
 
If fast boot up is what you are looking for, here is a little demo of a SSD booting up created by Vaughn!
 
 
 

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Heartbleed!
Heartbleed is just the latest in a long list of cyber security breaches. But Heartbleed seems to be a bit different mainly because it has gone undetected for so long there is no way to know how extensive the damage is. We could be seeing only the tip of the iceberg. The repercussions could be felt way into the future. 

Heartbleed is a big deal but being as jaded as we are by all of the security issues popping up everywhere, it seems hard to take it too seriously. In this case taking our time to respond might not be such a bad thing.


The main defense against any security breach is the ubiquitous password. Changing your passwords on all your critical accounts will be paramount to your personal financial security.


But wait, what if you access your account to change your password and the site hasn't been secured yet. How do we know when to change passwords?


Check out this website:
https://filippo.io/Heartbleed/


Plug in the website you are wondering about such as PayPal.com or Amazon.com or your bank's website. If it is safe then go ahead and change your password. It is a good idea to change your security questions as well, as these could also be compromised.

Changing your email password is crucial as access to your email account can allow a hacker to change your password on other accounts. Keeping vigil over your email account is important as well. If you are locked out of your email because your current password no longer works, or if you are able to get into your email account but have notices of changes to passwords for other accounts that you did not change you need to act swiftly to safeguard your critical accounts and may need to call your bank and credit card companies to put a temporary hold on activity.

Many sites use your cell phone to verify changes to your account and your cell phone could also be vulnerable. Beware of text messages from your cell provider that offer a link. Clicking on the link could let a hacker into your phone and from there into your accounts even after you have changed the passwords.

Staying secure into the future:

  • Get into the habit of changing your passwords every few months or whenever you have a bad feeling that your account could be vulnerable.
  • Keep a list of sites where you use your bank or credit accounts to pay for things such as Amazon, Ebay, PayPal, and charities. Change these passwords from time to time.
  • Keep a list of phone numbers to your bank and credit card companies along with your account numbers (stored in a secure place) so you can react swiftly to any security breach that arises.

 Staying vigilent is your best defense!

 

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Sharing too much
Have you ever met someone who tells you their whole life story on the first meeting? People who share too much in social settings strike us as a little unbalanced. Yet we are all out there on Facebook and other social media sites posting pictures of our kids and pets, revealing our birthdays, where we were born and where we live now, where we work, where we went to school, and when and where we are going on vacations, what schools our kids go to and where we go to church without much thought about who can access this information and how they might use it. 
 
If you haven't sat down with a friend and checked out your Facebook and other social media presence on their accounts, it is a good idea to give it a try. Using their Facebook account look at what they see when they visit your page or how your posts show up on their feed.  Better yet, find someone who isn't a Facebook friend yet to see what they can access. You might be surprised. And you might want to revisit some of those privacy settings to be sure you are not sharing too much with too many people--especially with people you don't know. 
 
It's also a good idea to Google yourself once in a while to see what comes up. There might not be much out there that you can access for free but were you to subscribe to some of the data services there's an awful lot more about you that will show up in their web searches. 
 
Being educated on where and how our personal information can be used and abused is all our responsibility. 
 
Here is more information on how to protect yourself from sharing too much personal information on the internet through social media and smartphones/handheld devices.
 
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